Despite a leisurely drive out to the foothills of the Dandenong’s for Sunday’s game against Upwey, there was plenty to be played for in the first match up between the two conference rivals. Upwey has had good early form with three wins also against conference teams and Doncaster needed a win to keep pace with the pack. Facing a back to back fixture against the Tigers with the second game to follow on Wednesday night at Deep Creek, the game started with both teams creating some minor opportunities but not taking the chances.
Doncaster again went with our ace import Luke Westphal who has been nothing short of dominant so far this year whilst Upwey countered with Luke Howell. Westphal showed real grit in this outing as his control wasn’t at it’s best in overcast conditions. Getting through the first two innings unscathed but not without battling, the 3rd inning proved to be his biggest test this year. Striking out the lead off and having the second hitter on a 1 ball, 2 strike count he went on to walk the bases loaded. Taking a breath and digging deep Westphal induced an 0-2 grounder to first baseman Andrew Reeves who fired home with a wrong footed throw to get the force out. From there things settled down and Westphal’s control seemed to come around, striking out Tigers manager and capable hitter Donavon Hendricks to end the threat and pretty much the last major Tigers threat for the game.
Westphal continued the theme of walks in the 3rd inning by leading off the Doncaster batting inning with four straight balls before 3rd baseman Nic Unland singled to move him up to 2nd base. Scott Carr then flew out to right field before Dragons manager Ben Utting drilled a double down the right field line to score both runners and give the away team a 2-0 lead.
Both starters settled into their work for the next two innings before Utting stunned everyone in the park by executing a perfect bunt to lead off the sixth. Utting stole second before Centre fielder Marcel D ‘Avoine drew a walk. Catcher Billy Findlay continued his good form flew out to centre field moving Utting to 3rd. D’Avoine then stole second but intentionally got into a run down play drawing an errant throw home as Utting went home to score with D’Avoine getting to 3rd. Right fielder Callum Lethborg then smoked a ball to the right- centre alley but Hendricks made a great catch diving back and across to his non preferred side. Hendricks’ effort limited some damaged but D’Avoine was able to stroll in easily making it a 4-0 lead.
The Dragons scoring has been slim of late but they weren’t finished with D’Avoine drilling a double to the right-centre alley and then Findlay drove him in with a single to centre field to make it 5-0 in the 8th. Unland then managed a walk in the 9th and then stole 2nd and scored on Utting’s 3rd hit for the day to put an exclamation mark on the days scoring.
Andrew Reeves was great over four innings of relief with an unearned run in the 9th blotting the Dragons superb day in a very solid 6-1 victory. The drive out was leisurely but the drive home was triumphant and as stated earlier the return bout will be 6pm on Wednesday 5th November at Deep Creek as the Dragons look to take the series from the Tigers.